Angie and Me in SE Asia travel blog

Angkor Wat when we got there

Angkor Wat at dawn an hour or so after we got there.

Inside Angkor Wat

At Ankgor Thom

Terrace of the Elephants

No where near the steepest one we climbed

Tomb Raider 1

Tomb Raider 2

An extremely early start today. The alarm went off at 3.45am, we were down and ready waiting for our tuk tuk driver by 4.25am, he was there waiting for us so we headed off in the dark for the Angkor National Park, home of the famous Angkor Wat and may other temple ruins. We had to wait for the ticket office to open and pay $20 each for our day pass, they also take your photo and have that printed on your day pass so you can't sell it on when you have finished. That done we headed off to Angkor Wat and entered the outer wall, in pitch darkness tagging on to people with torches to see the way over the steps and rocks. We took our position on the steps of one of the outer building in order to get a photo of the sun rise over the towers of the Wat. As we sat there hundreds of people appeared out of the darkness to join us either on these steps or down by the lake that sits in front of temple. As dawn arrived there were hundreds of people gathered, waiting to take that all important, memorable photograph, unfortunately the sun appeared with more of an apology than a blaze of glory and the photo opportunity of a lifetime had gone. Not that this stopped Angie merrily clicking away at the towers, the trees and even me. The temple opens at sunrise so we could go inside and explore, some people left at this point to avoid the crowds and would no doubt return later. A short walk over the bridge and we were in the single largest religious monument in the world. In size alone Angkor Wat is breathtaking. The outer walls stretch for 1.5km east to west and 1.3km north to south, the entire site takes in some 200 hectares. This meant that once inside the crowds dispersed and there were many times you were alone in peace and quiet and your own thoughts. The outside of the temple is spoiled by all the scaffold and green nettingof the restoration work going on. On the inside you can walk through the passages and imagine what it was like nearly 900 years ago when it was built and had over a 1,000 people living and working there. We spent a couple of hours here wandering around inside and out, before returning to Dano our patient tuk tuk driver who had been waiting for us outside. From here we rode to Angkor Thom,which was one of the largest of the ancient Khmer cities,and was believed to support a population of over a million. The centrepiece of Angkor Thom is the magnificent Bayon. Which we clambered all over and photographed from every possible angle. The Bayon is a three-tiered pyramid temple, with the central tower stretching to 45m in height. It originally had 54 towers but now only 49 remain. This was one of the most impressive places we visited in the park. Also at Angkor Thom we visited the Baphoun, which in its day would have been the tallest monument at Angkor and the Terrace of Elephants, which stretches for a full 300m, as the name suggests, it's carved with lots and lots and lots of elephants, many more photos were taken here. Throughought the morning we visited many more temples and monuments, all different and interesting in their own right and all with their coleection of young kids trying to hawk their wares, such as books, bracelets, postcards and water, some of them are comical and very witty with their patter, but even so it does get tiresome after a while, how many times can you say "no thank you" with a smile on your face. The most famous of the other temples we visited was, Ta Phrom, you may never have heard of it but if you have seen Tomb Raider, you will have seen it, as that was filmed here, with its cotton trees growing all over the temple. It gave Angie another opportunity to get busy with the camera. Despite this being one of the most popular attractions at Angkor, you could still find beautiful quiet corners here away from the crowds. After a short lunch we managed to get another two temples in before we decided to give up for the day, partly due to Angies knees feeling the effect of all the climbing (she had to sit at the bottom of the last few and watch me do my monkey impression so steep were the steps), partly because of the midday sun being so draining and partly because we had been sightseeing at the temples for nearly 10 hours, there is only so much of it you can do in a day. So it was home Dano, back to the guest house. The rest of the afternoon was spent showering, putting on bite spray, I have mozzie bite number two and taking a siesta. We also booked the bus from Siem Reap straight to Bangkok on Monday, which cost us $9 and takes 10 hours, not a day to look forward to but we decided to do it all in one rather than stop half way in a dodgy border town, we would rather have an extra day in Bangkok. So with the hotel booked for another night there, we were sorted. In the early evening we wandered into town, sat in a bar and watched the world go by, before going to the market stalls at the end of Pub Street for our evening meal. Where we had shakes, soup and a main for just about £1.75 each, we left with Angie complaining she was full, although this didnt stop here having the biggest chocolate pancake you have ever seen in a bar on the way home. We got back to the hotel after a long and exhausting day, not just for us but for the camera that had been asked to perform over 180 times today, no wonder it would need charging.

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